A FORMER soldier whose dad used to work for Hyndburn Leisure used a sim card that was issued to the local authority department to set up a mobile phone scam.

Blackburn magistrates heard Gavin Smith used the sim card in his own phone and then received a call from Vodaphone asking if he wanted an upgrade.

And he went on to establish several new accounts, each producing a new handset, and using the accounts to utilise on-line gambling sites, running up a total bill of over £3,000.

Gavin Smith, 32, of Eagle Street, Accrington, pleaded guilty to fraud by false representation. He was made subject to community supervision for 12 months, ordered to 100 hours unpaid work and pay £260 compensation.

The court heard Smith had come across the sim card at his mum’s home and had put it in his own phone.

He realised it was subject to a contract which turned out to be with his late father’s former employers, Hyndburn Leisure.

He received a call from Vodaphone asking if he wanted an upgrade and said he did.

“He took receipt of the phone and sold it,” said Andy Robinson, prosecuting. “He realised the account belonged to Hyndburn Leisure and he was able to get the account number.

He went on line and changed the account so that he was the administrator and over a period of months he added several accounts to the contract. With each account he received a new handset.”

Smith used the sim cards to access online gambling sites and used money he received to buy drugs.

“The total bill was £3,124 which has been reimbursed to Hyndburn Leisure but is a loss to Vodaphone,” said Mr Robinson.

Helen Oates, defending, said Smith was extremely remorseful and as soon as he knew something had happened to the account voluntarily went to the police.

She said Smith’s father, who had been a manager with Hyndburn Leisure, had died in 2012 and this had a dramatic effect on Smith who ended up reliant on drugs.

“When he found the sim card in a room that used to be his dad’s office he put it in his phone not knowing he was committing an offence,” said Miss Oates.

“It was only after the phone call from Vodaphone that his actions became criminal.”

Miss Oates said Smith had managed to get himself off drugs, had the offer of a job and was looking to get his life back on track.